West Brom 7 Gateshead 0

Rising star Saido Berahino netted four times against the minnows of Gateshead as Tony Pulis’ reign in charge of the Midlands’ club started on a high, with a convincing 7-0 thrashing in the FA Cup third round. The Cup is meant to be a chance for the lower league clubs to mix-it with the big boys of the Premier League and occasionally to enact a giant-killing act. That was never likely at the Hawthorns as West Brom breezed past their non-league opposition in fine style, as one would expect from a team of their capabilities.

Berahino, the Burundi born but English-qualified striker, seemed to particularly enjoy his afternoon against the North-East side, although his goal celebrations seemed distinctly low key. He certainly had something to prove after his initial flying start to the season has petered out somewhat in recent weeks, although he did score the equaliser in the league draw with West Ham on New Year’s Day. Against Gateshead he was a constant thorn in their side and scored four times, including some clinical finishing, to hoist his season’s tally to thirteen already. Would be suitors for his talents would have no doubt taken due notice, although some astute pundits were suggesting that the goals may have boosted the likely transfer fee required to prise him from West Brom by at least a couple of million pounds as a result ! Still only 21 years old, he was a star in the England under-21s successful European Championships’ qualifying campaign and sat on the bench for the full England side in the last set of matches.

West Brom’s seven goal advantage was rounded out through additional goals from Victor Anichebe, Chris Brunt and James Morrison, giving Pulis grounds for optimism going forward that he can turn their league form around. Rumours suggest that he has been offered a £1 million bonus should he manage to maintain his new side’s Premier League status, although the new man in charge would prefer to instil higher goals for his side than that one would expect, given the players available to him.

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